Oklahoma Health Department Revises Cannabis Rules After Criticism

The Oklahoma Board of Health has released a revised version of its cannabis rules after facing criticism over the heavily restricted version of the laws that voters chose for the state program’s framework.

Question 778 passed by 57 percent. But then the state Board of Health, which was pressured from state lawmakers and officials as well as the state’s Medical Association, added more restrictions before releasing their regulations. Lawsuits followed from patients and Green The Vote arguing the board did not comply with the passed regulations.

Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter requested the state’s Board of Health to amend the medical cannabis rules, saying they did not align with the laws that were passed by voters. “I have no doubt that the board in good faith sought to regulate marijuana in a matter it believed would best promote the health and safety of Oklahomans,” he wrote in a letter penned on July 18. “However, in doing so, the board made policy judgements not authorized by statute. These policy judgements are the prerogative of the Legislature and the people.”

Cannabis activist Robert Cox scoffed at the thought that voters did not comprehend the laws they were voting for, an argument used by the Oklahoma State Medical Association, who allegedly lobbies for the tighter rules. “The opposition spent over a half-million dollars on TV ads, radio ads, newspapers, and every single ad said the same thing. This is the most liberal marijuana law in the country,” Cox said. “It’s basically recreational. Don’t vote for it,” he said. “Well, what happened? We voted for it. It was absolutely, positively clear.”

The rules that were removed today included banning smokable cannabis, requiring a pharmacist at every dispensary, prohibiting dispensaries within 1,000 feet of a church and prohibiting sales on Sundays. Also removed were restrictions on THC levels in cannabis plants and required pregnancy tests on women seeking cannabis recommendations.

Oklahoma’s legalization of medical cannabis has been fraught with problems, including a bribery attempt by the state’s Board of Pharmacy to the Board of Health’s general counsel to influence the regulations.

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